PASSAGES: “Willy Wonka”, “Electric Company” star Denise Nickerson passes at 62

Denise Nickerson, known forever in time as “Violet Beauregard” in the classic 1971 film “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory“, died yesterday evening at the age of 62.

Nickerson had been a nurse for decades after retiring from show business at age 21, but before she racked up a string of impressive credits, not the least of which was her above role, for which she was known by generation after generation of fans of the film.

I had a huge crush on her when I was preteen, when she was playing Alison on “The Electric Company“, where she was a member of the in-house teen pop band The Short Circus, singing lead on my all time favorite song by them, “The Sweet Sweet Sway“. I last saw her as the female lead in the offbeat 1978 comedy “Zero To Sixty“, where she co-starred alongside Darren McGavin and the Hudson Brothers (yes I said THE HUDSON BROTHERS…). It played endlessly on premium cable in the early 1980s, and wasn’t a terrible film, as she and McGavin made it fun to watch. She also appeared as a regular in “Dark Shadows” prior to her “Wonka” fame.

Variety reports that NIckerson had suffered a stroke last year, and has been in deteriorating health ever since, and yesterday, her family made the heartbreaking decision to take her off life support. Son Josh, who’s expecting his first child with wife Jasmine, posted on his Facebook yesterday that “she’s gone”.  as Jasmine lamented that her late mother in law would heartbreakingly never get to meet her new grandbaby, a sad thing indeed.

Nickerson had made show biz appearances over the years, usually in connection to “Willy Wonka” celebrations of one type or another.

See below for some video memories…

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